How to Create a Profitable Annual Business Plan [+Free Template]

Jody Sutter

Published: February 09, 2023

The beginning of a new quarter is the perfect time to start planning the next year for your business. Start the next year or quarter off on the right foot by creating an annual business plan for your company.

annual business plan outline

Q4 often brings a flurry of business-related activity. And while all this activity helps fill the pipeline, it can distract you from reflecting on past performance and preparing for the year or quarter ahead.

Fortunately, you can write an annual business plan at any time of the year. Start your plan now to set your team up for success.

What is an annual business plan?

An annual business plan is just that — a plan for you and your employees to help achieve the company’s goals for the year. Think of an annual business plan as the guide to complete all of your company’s overall goals outlined in your initial business plan.

The first business plan you wrote for your business is the blueprint and the annual business plan is the detailed instructions to keep your business running long-term.

Usually, an annual business plan contains a short description of your company, a marketing analysis, and a sales/marketing plan.

Because an annual business plan is for the year, you’ll want to review your business at the end of four consecutive quarters and revise your plan for the next four quarters.

Why is annual business planning important?

Even though the fourth quarter might be a busy time of year, don’t put off creating an annual business plan.

Not only will your annual business plan keep you on track, it will also help you map out a strategy to keep your employees accountable. You can then more easily achieve the overall goals of your business.

Here are some reasons why it’s well worth creating an annual business plan for your company.

You can measure your success.

An annual business plan is the best way to measure your success. And I’m referring to the collective “you” here because it takes the entire company or all of your employees to make new business efforts effective.

An annual plan not only sets expectations for you but also for others within your company who need to contribute to the business’s success.

You can reflect on the past and plan ahead.

Creating an annual business plan allows you to reflect on the past 12 months.

As you reflect on the previous year, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what your business is capable of doing and set accurate, attainable projections based on previous numbers.

You’ll define your business goals.

Your annual business plan will shed some light on what the heck you do at your company. For those who are not routinely involved in new business, it can seem like a black hole of mystery.

Sharing your plan — whether to an executive committee, department heads, or even the entire staff — adds clarity and gives everyone something to aim for.

You can impress your boss.

If you head a department that could benefit from an annual business plan, don’t wait to be asked before you start writing. Get on your CEO’s schedule to review your outline and discuss your intentions for putting this plan together.

Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. You can get the ball rolling with the basic template that follows.

Annual Business Plan Template

Each section of your annual business plan will help tell the story of your company and clearly define your company’s goals for the year.

Let’s take a look at each section of the annual business plan template .

Executive Summary

Annual business plan template, executive summary

Don't forget to share this post!

Related articles.

How to Perform an Agency Brand Audit to Improve Your New Business Results

How to Perform an Agency Brand Audit to Improve Your New Business Results

27 Interesting Marketing Charts Every Client Needs to See

27 Interesting Marketing Charts Every Client Needs to See

The Ruthless Pursuit of “No” and Other Rules of New Business

The Ruthless Pursuit of “No” and Other Rules of New Business

8 Best Practices of Agencies That Win More New Business

8 Best Practices of Agencies That Win More New Business

How to Develop a Quick Win Approach for New Client Relationships

How to Develop a Quick Win Approach for New Client Relationships

How to Stay In Touch With Prospects Who Aren’t Ready for a New Agency

How to Stay In Touch With Prospects Who Aren’t Ready for a New Agency

How to Sell Your Ideas to Questioning Clients

How to Sell Your Ideas to Questioning Clients

How to Create an Ideal Client Profile

How to Create an Ideal Client Profile

Why Big Brands Hire Small Agencies

Why Big Brands Hire Small Agencies

8 Types of Clients Who Can Derail the New Business Process

8 Types of Clients Who Can Derail the New Business Process

2 Essential Templates For Starting Your Business

Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform

Growthink logo white

Annual Business Planning Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Business Annual Plan Template

What is an Annual Business Plan?

An annual business plan is a document that sets out the goals and objectives for a company over the course of a year. It provides a roadmap for how the business will operate and achieve its desired results. The best business plan template will help guide you in creating a comprehensive annual plan.

Steps to Create an Annual Plan

There are seven steps to creating an annual business plan:

  • Define the company’s overall vision and strategy.
  • Set specific, measurable goals and objectives for the year.
  • Identify the resources needed to achieve these goals.
  • Create a timeline for each goal and objective.
  • Assign responsibility for each goal and objective to specific individuals or teams.
  • Review and revise the plan on a regular basis.
  • Each of these steps is important in creating a well-formulated annual plan. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Defining the Company’s Overall Vision and Strategy

The first step in creating an annual plan is defining the company’s overall vision and strategy. This involves deciding where the company wants to be in the future and outlining the steps needed to get there. It’s important to be realistic in setting these goals and to make sure they are aligned with the company’s overall strategic vision.

Setting Specific, Measurable Goals and Objectives

Once the company’s overarching vision has been defined, it’s time to set specific, measurable goals and objectives for the year. These should be attainable but challenging and should align with the company’s overall strategy. Each goal should have a target date for completion, as well as a specific metric that will be used to measure progress.

Identifying Resources Needed To Achieve Goals

Next, it’s important to identify the resources needed to achieve these goals. This includes everything from manpower and funding, to office space and equipment. It’s also important to assign responsibility for each goal/objective to specific individuals or teams. This helps ensure that everyone is aware of their role in achieving the desired results.

Creating a Timeline

Once goals have been defined and resources have been identified, it’s time to create a timeline for each one. This will help keep everyone on track throughout the year and ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner. A Gantt chart can be helpful in organizing this information visually.

Assigning Responsibility

Finally, it’s important to assign responsibility for each goal/objective to specific individuals or teams. This helps ensure that everyone is aware of their role in achieving the desired results. By assigning clear responsibilities, tasks can be delegated efficiently and everyone will know who is responsible for what outcomes.

Reviewing and Revising Plan Regularly

It’s important to review and revise your annual plan on a regular basis. This ensures that the goals are still relevant and achievable and that the resources required are still available. It also allows for any necessary adjustments to be made if something isn’t working as planned. A good rule of thumb is to review the plan quarterly or more often if needed.

Parts of the Annual Strategic Plan Template

There are four key parts to the annual plan template:

1. Vision and Strategy

The first step is to define the company’s overall vision and strategy. This will provide a framework for all of the other steps in the process.

2. Goals and Objectives

The next step is to set specific, measurable goals and objectives for the year. These should be aligned with the company’s vision and strategy.

3. Resources

The third step is to identify the resources needed to achieve the goals and objectives. This includes things like budget, staff, and materials.

4. Timeline

The fourth step is to create a timeline for each goal and objective. This will help ensure that everything is completed on time and within budget.

The Importance of a Well-Formulated Annual Strategic Plan

The importance of a well-formulated annual plan cannot be overstated. It provides a clear roadmap for the company’s operations and sets forth a clear vision for its desired results. Additionally, it helps to ensure that all employees are aware of the company’s goals and objectives and are working towards the same end.

The Difference between an Annual Plan and A Company’s Broader Strategic Vision

The difference between an annual business plan and a company’s strategic vision is that the former is more focused on the specific goals and objectives to be achieved over the course of a year, while the latter is more concerned with the company’s long-term direction. An annual business plan lays out a roadmap for the company’s operations over the course of a year and sets specific targets to be met. A company’s strategic plan, on the other hand, is more concerned with the overall direction of the business and its long-term goals.

Ultimately the difference between an annual plan and a company’s broader strategic vision is that the former is more focused on the specific goals and objectives to be achieved over the course of a year, while the latter is more concerned with the company’s long-term direction.

Best Practices for Annual Planning

There are a few key best practices that businesses should keep in mind when planning their annual operations.  

First and foremost, it is important to be realistic about what can be accomplished in a year. Businesses should establish achievable goals and objectives, and then create a plan of action to achieve them. This includes setting timelines and specific tasks that need to be completed in order to reach the goal. 

Another key element of effective annual planning is creating a budget and sticking to it. Budgets help businesses stay accountable and track progress toward their goals. 

In addition, effective annual planning should always include regular review and course correction as needed. Businesses should routinely assess their progress, make necessary adjustments, and ensure they are still on track to meet their goals.

When it comes to business annual planning, there are a few best practices that can help your organization make the most of the process. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  •  Set realistic goals. It’s important to set realistic goals for your annual planning process – this way, you’re more likely to achieve them. Be honest with yourself about what’s achievable and what’s not, and make sure your team is on the same page.
  • Make a roadmap. Once you’ve set your goals, create a roadmap for how you’ll achieve them. This will help keep everyone on track and ensure that you’re making progress toward your targets.
  • Use data to inform your decisions. When making decisions about your annual planning, use data to inform your decisions. This will help you make informed choices based on evidence rather than intuition alone.
  • Communicate regularly. Make sure to communicate regularly with your team throughout the annual planning process – this will help keep everyone updated on what’s happening and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
  • Celebrate successes along the way. Celebrate successes along the way – this will keep everyone motivated and help ensure that the process is fun as well as productive.

Annual Contingency Plan Example

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a contingency plan or clause in case things don’t go as expected. Below is a sample contingency plan.

“In the event that we are unable to achieve our sales goals for the year, we will implement a number of contingency measures. These measures may include reducing our advertising budget, downsizing our workforce, and suspending operations at certain locations. We will only implement these measures if absolutely necessary and we are confident that they will help us to get back on track.”

Strategic Business Plan Example

Below is an example of a strategic business plan.

“Our long-term goal is to become the leading provider of XYZ products and services in our industry. To achieve this, we will need to increase our market share, expand our operations into new markets, and continue to innovate our product offerings. We are confident that we can achieve these goals and become the industry leader.”

Annual Business Plan Template

Executive summary.

The executive summary is a brief overview of the company’s annual plans while taking into account the company’s broader vision. It should include a description of the company, its products, and services, its marketing and sales strategy, its operations plan, and its financial plan.

Company Overview

The company overview section of the annual planning document should provide a brief history of the company, its mission and vision, and its current status.

Products and Services

This section of the annual plans should describe the company’s products and services in detail. It should also include information on the company’s competitive advantages and any new products or services that will be launched in the coming year.

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan section of the company’s strategy should outline the marketing and sales strategy for the entire organization for the coming year. It should include information on the company’s target market, its branding and positioning strategy, its advertising and promotion budget, and its sales goals.

Operations Plan

The operations plan section of the annual business plan should describe the company’s methods for manufacturing, distribution, and other aspects of its operations. It should also include information on the company’s capacity, its supply chain, and its quality control procedures.

Financial Plan

The financial plan section of the annual business plan should include a summary of the company’s financials, the budgetary approval process, contingency plans, as well as the broader visions and plans for funding and investment.

With regards to financials, you want to include past and projected Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow Statements. Also, if you are seeking external financing, document the amount of funding you need and the key expected uses of these funds.

Annual Goals

When creating your business plan, it’s important to set annual goals and objectives. This will help you track your progress and ensure that you’re on track to reaching your long-term goals. Some things you may want to consider when setting your annual goals include:

  • Increasing revenue
  • Expanding your customer base
  • Improving product or service quality
  • Reducing costs
  • Developing new products or services
  • Enhancing marketing efforts
  • Expanding into new markets

One of the most important aspects of any business plan is setting annual goals. These goals should be attainable, yet ambitious, and should help to guide your business in the right direction. Some things you may want to consider when setting your annual goals include increasing sales, expanding your customer base, improving productivity or efficiency, reducing costs, or developing new products or services. Whatever your goals may be, make sure to document them and track your progress throughout the year. This will help you ensure that you are on track to meeting your targets and achieving success for your business.

The appendix of the annual business plan template should include any supporting documentation that is relevant to the plan, such as market research reports, financial projections, and product specifications.

Every company should have an annual business plan. This document helps you track your progress, set goals, plan forward, and make necessary adjustments throughout the year related to key results. Without a business plan, it is difficult to make informed decisions about where to allocate your resources or measure your success. If you need help getting started, we have a great business planning template that can get you on the right track. By following our simple tips and using our template, you can create a comprehensive business plan that will help ensure your success in the coming year. 

How to Finish Your Business Plan Template in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan template?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Growthink logo white

How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needi

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated May 7, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

Brought to you by

LivePlan Logo

Create a professional business plan

Using ai and step-by-step instructions.

Secure funding

Validate ideas

Build a strategy

  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information to include in a business plan is sometimes not quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

There are plenty of great options available (we’ve rounded up our 8 favorites to streamline your search).

But, if you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template , you can get one right now; download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.

annual business plan outline

Free business plan template

Download a free SBA-approved business plan template built for small businesses and startups.

Download Template

annual business plan outline

One-page plan template

Download a free one-page plan template to write a useful business plan in as little as 30-minutes.

annual business plan outline

Sample business plan library

Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries.

View Sample Plans

How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

LivePlan Logo

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

Start your business plan with the #1 plan writing software. Create your plan with Liveplan today.

Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

Related Articles

Owner of a life coaching business works on writing their business plan.

5 Min. Read

How To Write a Business Plan for a Life Coaching Business + Free Example

Bakery business owners look over their bakery business plan

7 Min. Read

How to Write a Bakery Business Plan + Sample

Female entrepreneur sitting at her desk doing manual calculations with a calculator trying to understand what her return on investment will be.

1 Min. Read

How to Calculate Return on Investment (ROI)

Overlapping files, folders, charts, graphs, and documents. Represents the information included in a business plan appendix.

3 Min. Read

What to Include in Your Business Plan Appendix

The Bplans Newsletter

The Bplans Weekly

Subscribe now for weekly advice and free downloadable resources to help start and grow your business.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy .

Garrett's Bike Shop

The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan

Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.

No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.

LivePlan pitch example

Discover the world’s #1 plan building software

annual business plan outline

We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Manage Cookies

Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.

Show cookie providers

  • Google Login

Functionality Cookies

These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.

Performance Cookies

These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.

  • Google Analytics

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.

  • Google Tag Manager
  • Infographics
  • Daily Infographics
  • Popular Templates
  • Accessibility
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Data Visualization
  • Human Resources
  • Beginner Guides

Blog Business How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates] 

How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates] 

Written by: Letícia Fonseca Aug 11, 2023

business plan outline

When venturing into crafting a business plan, the initial hurdle often lies in taking that first step.

So, how can you evade those prolonged hours of staring at a blank page? Initiate your journey with the aid of a business plan outline.

As with any endeavor, an outline serves as the beacon of clarity, illuminating the path to confront even the most formidable tasks. This holds particularly true when composing pivotal documents vital to your triumph, much like a business plan.

Nonetheless, I understand the enormity of a business plan’s scope, which might make the task of outlining it seem daunting. This is precisely why I’ve compiled all the requisite information to facilitate the creation of a business plan outline. No need to break a sweat!

And if you’re seeking further assistance, a business plan maker and readily available business plan templates can offer valuable support in shaping your comprehensive plan.

Read on for answers to all your business plan outline questions or jump ahead for some handy templates. 

Click to jump ahead:

What is a business plan outline (and why do you need one), what format should you choose for your business plan outline, what are the key components of a business plan outline.

  • Business plan template examples
  • Writing tips to ace your outline 

A business plan outline is the backbone of your business plan. It contains all the most important information you’ll want to expand on in your full-length plan. 

Think of it this way: your outline is a frame for your plan. It provides a high-level idea of what the final plan should look like, what it will include and how all the information will be organized. 

Why would you do this extra step? Beyond saving you from blank page syndrome, an outline ensures you don’t leave any essential information out of your plan — you can see all the most important points at a glance and quickly identify any content gaps. 

It also serves as a writing guide. Once you know all the sections you want in your plan, you just need to expand on them. Suddenly, you’re “filling in the blanks” as opposed to writing a plan from scratch!

Incidentally, using a business plan template like this one gives you a running head start, too: 

business plan outline

Perhaps most importantly, a business plan outline keeps you focused on the essential parts of your document. (Not to mention what matters most to stakeholders and investors.)  With an outline, you’ll spend less time worrying about structure or organization and more time perfecting the actual content of your document. 

If you’re looking for more general advice, you can read about  how to create a business plan here . But if you’re working on outlining your plan, stick with me.

Return to Table of Contents

Most business plans fit into one of two formats. 

The format you choose largely depends on three factors: (1) the stage of your business, (2) if you’re presenting the plan to investors and (3) what you want to achieve with your business plan. 

Let’s have a closer look at these two formats and why you might choose one over the other.

Traditional format

Traditional business plans  are typically long, detailed documents. In many cases, they take up to 50-60 pages, but it’s not uncommon to see plans spanning 100+ pages. 

Traditional plans are long because they cover  every aspect  of your business. They leave nothing out. You’ll find a traditional business plan template with sections like executive summary, company description, target market, market analysis, marketing plan, financial plan, and more. Basically: the more information the merrier.

This business plan template isn’t of a traditional format, but you could expand it into one by duplicating pages:

business plan outline

Due to their high level of detail, traditional formats are the best way to sell your business. They show you’re reliable and have a clear vision for your business’s future. 

If you’re planning on presenting your plan to investors and stakeholders, you’ll want to go with a traditional plan format. The more information you include, the fewer doubts and questions you’ll get when you present your plan, so don’t hold back. 

Traditional business plans require more detailed outlines before drafting since there’s a lot of information to cover. You’ll want to list all the sections and include bullet points describing what each section should cover. 

It’s also a good idea to include all external resources and visuals in your outline, so you don’t have to gather them later. 

Lean format

Lean business plan formats are high level and quick to write. They’re often only one or two pages. Similar to a  business plan infographic , they’re scannable and quick to digest, like this template: 

business plan outline

This format is often referred to as a “startup” format due to (you guessed it!) many startups using it. 

Lean business plans require less detailed outlines. You can include high-level sections and a few lines in each section covering the basics. Since the final plan will only be a page or two, you don’t need to over prepare. Nor will you need a ton of external resources. 

Lean plans don’t answer all the questions investors and stakeholders may ask, so if you go this route, make sure it’s the right choice for your business . Companies not yet ready to present to investors will typically use a lean/startup business plan format to get their rough plan on paper and share it internally with their management team. 

Here’s another example of a lean business plan format in the form of a financial plan: 

business plan outline

Your business plan outline should include all the following sections. The level of detail you choose to go into will depend on your intentions for your plan (sharing with stakeholders vs. internal use), but you’ll want every section to be clear and to the point. 

1. Executive summary

The executive summary gives a high-level description of your company, product or service. This section should include a mission statement, your company description, your business’s primary goal, and the problem it aims to solve. You’ll want to state how your business can solve the problem and briefly explain what makes you stand out (your competitive advantage).

Having an executive summary is essential to selling your business to stakeholders , so it should be as clear and concise as possible. Summarize your business in a few sentences in a way that will hook the reader (or audience) and get them invested in what you have to say next. In other words, this is your elevator pitch.

business plan outline

2. Product and services description

This is where you should go into more detail about your product or service. Your product is the heart of your business, so it’s essential this section is easy to grasp. After all, if people don’t know what you’re selling, you’ll have a hard time keeping them engaged!

Expand on your description in the executive summary, going into detail about the problem your customers face and how your product/service will solve it. If you have various products or services, go through all of them in equal detail. 

business plan outline

3. Target market and/or Market analysis

A market analysis is crucial for placing your business in a larger context and showing investors you know your industry. This section should include market research on your prospective customer demographic including location, age range, goals and motivations. 

You can even  include detailed customer personas  as a visual aid — these are especially useful if you have several target demographics. You want to showcase your knowledge of your customer, who exactly you’re selling to and how you can fulfill their needs.

Be sure to include information on the overall target market for your product, including direct and indirect competitors and how your industry is performing. If your competitors have strengths you want to mimic or weaknesses you want to exploit, this is the place to record that information. 

business plan outline

4. Organization and management

You can think of this as a “meet the team” section — this is where you should go into depth on your business’s structure from management to legal and HR. If there are people bringing unique skills or experience to the table (I’m sure there are!), you should highlight them in this section. 

The goal here is to showcase why your team is the best to run your business. Investors want to know you’re unified, organized and reliable. This is also a potential opportunity to bring more humanity to your business plan and showcase the faces behind the ideas and product. 

business plan outline

5. Marketing and sales

Now that you’ve introduced your product and team, you need to explain how you’re going to sell it. Give a detailed explanation of your sales and marketing strategy, including pricing, timelines for launching your product and advertising.

This is a major section of your plan and can even live as a separate document for your marketing and sales teams. Here are some  marketing plan templates to help you get started .

Make sure you have research or analysis to back up your decisions — if you want to do paid ads on LinkedIn to advertise your product, include a brief explanation as to why that is the best channel for your business. 

business plan outline

6. Financial projections and funding request

The end of your plan is where you’ll look to the future and how you think your business will perform financially. Your financial plan should include results from your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projections. 

State your funding requirements and what you need to realize the business. Be extremely clear about how you plan to use the funding and when you expect investors will see returns.

If you aren’t presenting to potential investors, you can skip this part, but it’s something to keep in mind should you seek funding in the future. Covering financial projections and the previous five components is essential at the stage of business formation to ensure everything goes smoothly moving forward.

business plan outline

7. Appendix

Any extra visual aids, receipts, paperwork or charts will live here. Anything that may be relevant to your plan should be included as reference e.g. your cash flow statement (or other financial statements). You can format your appendix in whatever way you think is best — as long as it’s easy for readers to find what they’re looking for, you’ve done your job!

Typically, the best way to start your outline is to list all these high-level sections. Then, you can add bullet points outlining what will go in each section and the resources you’ll need to write them. This should give you a solid starting point for your full-length plan.

Business plan outline templates

Looking for a shortcut? Our  business plan templates  are basically outlines in a box! 

While your outline likely won’t go into as much detail, these templates are great examples of how to organize your sections.

Traditional format templates

A strong template can turn your long, dense business plan into an engaging, easy-to-read document. There are lots to choose from, but here are just a few ideas to inspire you… 

You can duplicate pages and use these styles for a traditional outline, or start with a lean outline as you build your business plan out over time:

business plan outline

Lean format templates

For lean format outlines, a simpler ‘ mind map ’ style is a good bet. With this style, you can get ideas down fast and quickly turn them into one or two-page plans. Plus, because they’re shorter, they’re easy to share with your team.

business plan outline

Writing tips to ace your business plan outline

Business plans are complex documents, so if you’re still not sure how to write your outline, don’t worry! Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when drafting your business plan outline:

  • Ask yourself why you’re writing an outline. Having a clear goal for your outline can help keep you on track as you write. Everything you include in your plan should contribute to your goal. If it doesn’t, it probably doesn’t need to be in there.
  • Keep it clear and concise. Whether you’re writing a traditional or lean format business plan, your outline should be easy to understand. Choose your words wisely and avoid unnecessary preambles or padding language. The faster you get to the point, the easier your plan will be to read.
  • Add visual aids. No one likes reading huge walls of text! Make room in your outline for visuals, data and charts. This keeps your audience engaged and helps those who are more visual learners. Psst,  infographics  are great for this.
  • Make it collaborative. Have someone (or several someones) look it over before finalizing your outline. If you have an established marketing / sales / finance team, have them look it over too. Getting feedback at the outline stage can help you avoid rewrites and wasted time down the line.

If this is your first time writing a business plan outline, don’t be too hard on yourself. You might not get it 100% right on the first try, but with these tips and the key components listed above, you’ll have a strong foundation. Remember, done is better than perfect. 

Create a winning business plan by starting with a detailed, actionable outline

The best way to learn is by doing. So go ahead, get started on your business plan outline. As you develop your plan, you’ll no doubt learn more about your business and what’s important for success along the way. 

A clean, compelling template is a great way to get a head start on your outline. After all, the sections are already separated and defined for you! 

Explore Venngage’s business plan templates  for one that suits your needs. Many are free to use and there are premium templates available for a small monthly fee. Happy outlining!

Discover popular designs

annual business plan outline

Infographic maker

annual business plan outline

Brochure maker

annual business plan outline

White paper online

annual business plan outline

Newsletter creator

annual business plan outline

Flyer maker

annual business plan outline

Timeline maker

annual business plan outline

Letterhead maker

annual business plan outline

Mind map maker

annual business plan outline

Ebook maker

Business Management Daily logo

How to create a successful annual business plan

Kaylyn McKenna

Here is what you need to know to create an effective and comprehensive annual plan for your department or company:

What is the purpose of annual planning?

An annual plan acts as a roadmap for your company. Annual planning allows you to go into a new fiscal or calendar year with specific and measurable goals set, budgets finalized, and a plan for how to measure progress on and achieve your company’s organizational and financial goals. Through this process, you develop the vision of where you hope that your company will be at the end of the year and the map of how you will get there.

You can also use annual planning to set goals and plans for individual departments or teams within an organization. Create marketing plans, human resource plans, and more to keep each segment of your business on track, reset your goals, and get your teams aligned towards common goals and initiatives. Since trends, consumer habits, and other factors change frequently, it’s good to create a fresh one-year plan each year.

Annual plans complement strategic planning while providing more short-term (one year) goals that are often tied to financial goals as well as the annual budget. Strategic plans often have more overarching goals that work to advance the company’s mission over three years or longer. Your annual plan will likely include goals that play into these longer-term goals in your company’s strategic plan.

BP Handbook D

Evaluating existing and prior year goals

Start your process by evaluating your current starting point. Take time to look back at last year’s annual plan and evaluate whether you achieved your set goals or fell short in certain areas. Attempt to determine why you fell short on specific goals and what steps you could take to prevent a repeat of that issue. This will help you set realistic goals for the new year.

This is also a great time to review your company’s:

Mission statement. This is a statement that describes the purpose of your organization. What does your business do and what does it hope to accomplish?

Core values. These are the principles, beliefs, and values that your organization’s culture is built on. These values shape how you do business, and as such, should shape your annual plan.

Strategic plan. Your strategic plan should detail your business plan and long-term goals while taking market conditions into consideration. Your annual plan should complement your overall strategic plan.

Financial reports. Review the prior year’s budget reconciliation, cash flow statements, and year-end reporting. If you have access to budgets or financial forecasts for the upcoming year, review them now. If not, they’ll need to be created later in the annual planning process.

Keep all of these documents handy, as you may need to reference them as you move through the annual planning process.

Create an updated SWOT analysis

It’s also time to update or create a SWOT Analysis chart for your company. A SWOT analysis is typically depicted as a four-quadrant square with the following quadrants:

Strengths. List out the things that your company already does well and your internal strengths. Perhaps you have a large Instagram following with a strong network of influencers promoting your product. Maybe you have unique branding, patents, or technology that set you apart from competitors. This section is your highlight reel from prior years and can also include strengths like new products or developments being released in the new year.

Weaknesses. Now it’s time to consider what can be improved. List out your company’s internal areas of weakness. A good way to identify weaknesses is to look at customer feedback. Do customers like your product but complain about the processing and delivery times? A weakness can also be staffing-related such as high turnover or taking too long to fill open positions. A common marketing weakness may be lack of media mentions or ranking low in Google search results for your product or business type.

Opportunities. These are external opportunities that you can take advantage of in the coming year. Are there new trends or technologies that could boost the success of your business? Is it time to start marketing your products to Gen Z? Are there changes in government regulations or laws going into effect in 2022 that could have a positive impact on your business?

Threats. Explore potential external threats to your company’s growth and success in the coming year. Maybe the current supply chain problems mean that you will have manufacturing or delivery delays in 2022. There could also be legal changes that negatively impact your business. Threats could also come in the form of major competitors or market saturation. Knowing what may threaten your success will help you build a plan to overcome these challenges, so be thorough with your market analysis.

After creating a company-wide SWOT analysis, consider breaking things down even further and creating a SWOT analysis on specific aspects or segments of your business.

For example, a marketing SWOT chart can help you identify what you need to adjust in your marketing strategy for the new year. Many businesses, especially small businesses, may have strong Facebook and Instagram accounts but weaknesses in the area of SEO. Reaching new audiences and market segments through TikTok may be an opportunity if your business has not jumped onto the platform yet. A new year is a great time to do a SWOT and update your ideal customer or target demographics to evaluate opportunities for expansion.

Goal setting with SMART goals

It’s a good idea to start off the new year by setting goals for your employees, departments, and the company overall. This creates trackable metrics to measure your company’s success at each level throughout the year. The best way to create goals is to use the SMART goal system.

Specific. Aim to make your goals specific and to identify who will be involved in the goal. A general goal would be to increase brand awareness. Specific goals would be growing your LinkedIn following to 10,000, obtaining 10 media mentions, or ranking one the first page of Google results for a specific target keyword. Within each of those specific goals you could identify who is responsible for them; a social media manager, PR or media relations team member, an SEO consultant, or in a small business, it may just be a digital marketing manager. Regardless, it’s helpful to define who is involved and who will oversee progress.

Measurable. Define how you will measure the success of each goal. What metric will you use to track progress towards the goal?

Attainable. Your goals should be realistic. They can be somewhat ambitious, but avoid including stretch goals that are unlikely to be achieved within the year with your anticipated staffing levels, budget, and level of consumer awareness. Of course, start-ups would love to score a major investor or have their company go viral and generate a huge amount of buzz with consumers, but unless you have reason to believe either of those is on the horizon, leave out goals that depend on unrealistic or unpredictable events. Also, leave goals that will take several years for your strategic plan.

Relevant. The goals that you set for this year should be relevant to your company’s vision, mission, and long-term objectives. This is why it’s helpful to start the process by looking at your mission statement, vision, and strategic plan.

Time-bound. All goals should have a clearly defined time frame including a specific deadline date. For annual planning, the timeframe may be one year, or you can break your goals down into monthly or quarterly goals and adjust the deadlines as such.

You’ll likely end up with a decently long list of goals for your company. As mentioned in the Specific criteria, breaking down your goals and defining who is responsible for them is important. Try to create goals that span the major business functions of your company such as product, operations, marketing, HR, and leadership . Set company-wide goals and then break them down by teams and later by individual contributors to ensure that everyone knows what goals they need to accomplish in order to help the business meet its overall yearly goals.

Budgeting and financial considerations

An important aspect of annual planning is financial planning. A good business plan should take financial constraints, budgets, and financial goals into consideration and plan accordingly. If you are a start-up and plan to go through a round of fundraising or have other major changes such as going public with an IPO, include those in your annual planning.

Your annual plan should include financial projections for the year. These projections will help you plan for financing needs, changes in cash flow, and evaluate the best timing for new projects or hiring. You’ll want to create sales forecasts to project your expected income. It’s also wise to forecast your anticipated expenses for things like labor, materials. supplies, and overhead.

You’ll also want to verify that you will be able to allocate the funds needed to accomplish the SMART goals that you created earlier. At this point, you may need to revise some of your goals to ensure that they are achievable within your financial constraints. Those that require a larger budget may need to be scaled down or saved for next year.

Contingency planning

Hopefully everything will go as planned, but it’s always good to have a contingency plan in place in case something goes awry. After all, we’ve all seen how unexpected challenges can derail business operations over the past two years.

Plan for potential emergencies or alternate scenarios. Does your annual business plan rely on covid conditions improving in 2022? Create a contingency plan in case there are more hiccups than expected during reopening or the return to the office.

Consider how your business could best handle supply chain issues, unexpected cash flow problems, and major IT or security concerns. If your headquarters is in an area prone to natural disasters such as wildfires or hurricanes, you should always have a plan in place for the safety of your staff, files, as well as assets that would be difficult to replace.

Putting it all together

There are a number of annual business plan templates available online that you can use to craft your final report. Larger companies often use specialized software for their annual business plan. If you plan to use the goals created during the annual planning process for performance management , a software solution may be best so that department leads and individual employees can track their goals throughout the year.

The report should open with an executive summary, although this is actually the last piece that you’ll typically want to write. The executive summary should act as an introduction to and a summary of the full report. Tailor it to your audience depending on whether the plan will be shared with employees, investors, or others.

A description of the product or services including new products, the team, and the company at present may also be included.

Then comes the meat of the report where you explain the goals you’ve created and your plan for achieving and measuring them. Your full report may be separated into marketing planning, financial planning, HR planning for organizational improvement, and other relevant sub-sections. This is where the zoomed-in SWOT analyses and department-level SMART goals will come in handy.

The report should leave the reader with a clear picture of what you will achieve and how you will do it.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

The Office Organizer: 10 tips on file organizing, clutter control, document management, business shredding policy, record retention guidelines and how to organize office emails

Logo

How To Create An Effective Annual Operating Plan (+Template)

Download our free Operational Strategy Template Download this template

Do you even need one? Perhaps your organization excels at executing business strategies, keeping everything on track while you monitor performance in real-time.

That's the hope, isn't it?

But let's be honest. You wouldn't be here reading this article if you were confident in your existing annual operating planning process.

So let’s dive in and explore the step-by-step process to create your annual operating plan. This guide also includes a free planning template that will help you flesh out the plan’s details. 

Free Template Download our free Operational Strategy Template Download this template

What Is An Annual Operating Plan? 

An annual operating plan (AOP) is a forward-looking blueprint that translates your business strategy into actionable steps. It’s a detailed roadmap that outlines your organization's strategic objectives, annual budget, detailed action plans, and resource allocation for a specific fiscal year. 

Annual Operating Plan (AOP) diagram

With an AOP (also known as the annual business plan), you get a 10,000-foot view of how to allocate project resources and what risks to manage so you can execute key priorities. The plan serves as a bridge between high-level business goals and day-to-day operations.

💡What is the difference between a business strategy and an annual operating plan (AOP)? Business strategy outlines the choices you need to make for your organization to win. AOP involves budget allocation, timelines, and deliverables, empowering your team to execute your strategy successfully.

Benefits Of An Annual Operating Plan

Organizations can realize the full benefits of an annual operating plan when it's tightly integrated with their strategic plan and financial budget. Here’s how:

Maximized resource efficiency and utilization

An AOP ensures efficient resource allocation to projects and initiatives that align with the business strategy and financial budget. It helps you direct human, financial, and other assets toward achieving strategic objectives , minimizing resource waste by linking daily operations with long-term goals. 

Alignment and focus on key business priorities 

An annual operating plan provides a clear roadmap toward a shared vision and helps everyone in your team understand their roles in meeting business objectives. It promotes collaboration and communication while eliminating silos, fostering a unified, goal-driven work environment.

Controlled strategy execution 

By defining specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and milestones in your AOP, you can easily assess whether the company is on track to achieve its goals. These metrics will help you identify areas that require immediate course correction to stay aligned with the overall strategy.

Confident, data-driven decisions 

A well-rounded AOP provides you with data to help you make the right decisions. These insights empower proactive responses to opportunities and challenges, ensuring that all team actions are focused on outcomes.

How To Create An Annual Operating Plan? 

Here’s a step-by-step guide for you to follow:

Step 1: Do the initial research and analysis

To kick off the planning process, assess the current state of your organization. Review the previous year's performance, considering various data sources, including financial statements and operational reports . 

By doing a thorough business review , you ensure that your annual operating plan for next year is grounded in reality. 

This helps you create a holistic plan that considers your business’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses. It also sets the stage for subsequent operational and financial planning —more on this later in the article.

👉How Cascade helps you:

With Cascade’s extensive library of 1,000+ integrations , you can centralize all your business data in one place. This simplifies data analysis and gives you easy access to past performance for an objective and thorough review. 

Step 2: Consult with key stakeholders to understand the needs 

The effectiveness of your annual operating plan (AOP) hinges on its alignment with your overarching company goals. Without it, you’re just creating a set of plans that, when executed, will have little to no impact on the overall business strategy. 

To ensure organizational alignment , discuss with the CEO and CFO about key business priorities. Also, meet with other key stakeholders like department heads to gather insights on departmental needs and priorities.

Their input will help you set realistic and achievable objectives and also get them fully onboard when the time comes to put the plan in motion.

👉How Cascade helps you:  

Cascade’s Metrics Library helps you tie metrics with your business objectives so you can have total visibility of what’s happening across the organization and achieve data-driven organizational alignment from top to bottom. 

Step 3: Set a budget and allocate resources

First, look at your revenue goals and identify how much will you actually need to sell to hit your targets.

Collaborate with department heads to assess the availability of manpower, equipment, and other resources. Verify whether these are sufficient to meet your set targets.

List out expenses, covering everything from materials and labor to marketing and new equipment. This exercise provides a clear picture of how much of resources you’ll need to allocate across various projects and functions to fulfill the objectives of your annual plan.

👉How Cascade helps you: 

Cascade makes budget tracking possible with custom fields that can capture data and link them to objectives. The budget custom field is a numerical field type where you can set the allocated, forecast, and spent values. As you work on your plan, you can update the relevant values and see a progress bar of the allocation vs. actuals.

📹 Check out this short video and learn how to set your custom field for budget tracking:

annual business plan outline

Step 4: Prepare a plan 

In this step, you should define your metrics and go beyond mere measurement. Set concrete targets. Then, link these targets to initiatives , projects, and actions that will drive you toward those numbers. 

Whether your organization operates with multiple departmental plans or a single, unified annual operating plan, ensure each department head outlines key projects and action plans aimed at achieving their annual targets.

When setting your KPIs to track progress, don’t forget to focus on both leading and lagging indicators .

Cascade’s free operational plan template gives you a clear and simple plan structure that you can use to easily collaborate with other department heads or team leaders. It’s pre-filled with examples and fully customizable to fit your needs.

📚 Are you an organization with multiple business units, each requiring its own AOP aligned with a central strategic plan? Explore our case study to see how a customer uses Cascade for strategic alignment between AOPs of different business units and the organization’s overarching 3-year strategy.

Step 5: Review and approve

Ensure your AOP is well-rounded and considers the needs of different stakeholders . Have different departments review the plan to promote alignment and collaboration. This step also ensures everyone is on the same page from the start. 

After an internal review, secure approval from decision-makers, such as board members or executives, to gain buy-in at the highest levels. This buy-in makes it easier to implement your annual plan.

Step 6: Execute and monitor 

Everyone involved must start working on their assigned initiatives. Ensure every team member knows that their duties are time-bound and remains accountable for completing them.

To make sure you're staying on course, it's vital to keep an eye on the progress through the KPIs established earlier. Monitoring progress against objectives ensures that you stay on track throughout the year. 

💡 Tip: Set a regular schedule to review your annual operating plan. Depending on your needs, this could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. 

Cascade can help with monitoring through its user-friendly dashboards and comprehensive reporting capabilities. 

Dashboards use chart widgets and graphs populated with real-time data so you can understand what’s happening in different time frames. 

financial dashboard in cascade

Cascade’s reports empower decision-making by providing the context of the data presented.

financial report in cascade

Annual Operating Plan Example With A Free Template

annual operating plan template free

Cascade’s Operational Strategy Template is suitable for organizations of all sizes, and you can use it for free. 

This template comes with pre-filled fields to guide you on where to enter your data so you can quickly set it up within minutes. You can choose your focus areas and write down the objectives. Then you can set the KPIs that will be measured and tracked as you progress with the plan. 

Once set, designate responsible team members and use Cascade's real-time dashboard for monitoring.

It’s a tried and tested template that aligns your employees with the business strategy and provides clear guidelines on how to execute it.

Execute Your Annual Operating Plan With Cascade 🚀

You can’t simply make an AOP without tying it to the larger picture. Executing a plan without clear alignment to the overall business strategy is futile. Yes, your company is busy, but you’re getting nowhere. 

With Cascade , you can centralize your strategy. By doing so, you can easily see how the execution aligns with your business strategy.  

With its dynamic dashboards, real-time reports, and various other features, you can create seamless plans, execute them, and not worry that they’re being completed in silos. Every action your teams take, and every small goal they achieve, is connected to a bigger strategy that helps achieve your organization’s long-term vision. 

Want to give it a try? Sign up today for free or book a 1:1 product tour with one of Cascade’s strategy experts. 

Annual Operating Plan FAQ

What should be included in an annual operating plan .

A well-structured annual operating plan should include:

  • A clear set of strategic objectives
  • Detailed action plans
  • Performance metrics
  • Resource allocation
  • Risk mitigation plans

What is the difference between annual operating plans and budgets?

Annual operating plans and budgets are both financial planning tools used to manage performance. An AOP is a comprehensive blueprint that includes your overarching goals and the details to execute them, including the financial and human resources needed.

On the other hand, CFOs use budgets to focus mostly on the financial aspect of the organization’s plan and are highly numbers-driven. They provide detailed projections of revenue, expenses, and cash flows but lack the strategic depth of AOPs. Unlike AOPs, they’re also less flexible once approved and are primarily intended for financial and accounting teams. 

Popular articles

annual business plan outline

Viva Goals Vs. Cascade: Goal Management Vs. Strategy Execution

annual business plan outline

What Is A Maturity Model? Overview, Examples + Free Assessment

annual business plan outline

How To Implement The Balanced Scorecard Framework (With Examples)

annual business plan outline

The Best Management Reporting Software For Strategy Officers (2024 Guide)

Your toolkit for strategy success.

annual business plan outline

Annual Planning

Man with laptop developing an annual plan during an annual planning meeting

A strong annual plan builds on the company’s broader strategic vision and core values while still providing specific goals, metrics, and budgets to guide managers and employees. If it’s doing its job, the annual business plan is also flexible enough to adapt to an unpredictable and often volatile market.

Take the Scenario Planner demo

What is annual planning?

An annual business plan is a road map for a company and its employees. It contains milestones that carry the plan forward through a series of smaller goals that lead to a broader vision of where the business aims to be by the end of the year.

When a new year arrives, many people make plans and resolutions for the coming 12 months. They look back at the previous year and consider what worked for them and what they want to improve. Then they plan what goals they want to achieve, from getting out of debt to losing weight to learning a new language. Similarly, a company or organization will use an annual business plan to tighten its belt, improve performance, and reach specific goals over the coming year.

Whether using an annual business plan template or working from scratch, a company will review the expectations and results from the previous year in order to create an annual plan that gives everyone in the organization a sense of where they’re headed and how they will get there.

Why annual planning is important.

An annual business plan empowers workers to set specific business goals based on the company’s overarching strategy, and it also holds teams accountable for achieving stated goals.

The annual plan connects directly to where a company wants to be in 3 to 5 years and defines what’s critical to achieve over the next year to progress toward longer-term targets.

A well-formulated annual plan also keeps the workforce united and focused, energizing them to be more productive.

Additional benefits of an annual business plan include:

  • Providing a stronger connection to the strategic plan
  • Putting the mission of the organization into daily practice
  • Providing workers with a clear sense of direction in their departments or roles

What’s the difference between an annual plan and a strategic plan?

In the strategic planning process , an organization describes or affirms its mission, deciding what it wants to achieve over the next few years (vision) and setting strategic priorities to help make that vision a reality.

The strategic plan works hand in hand with the annual business plan. The former provides an overarching vision of what the company wants to achieve, and the annual plan provides the nuts and bolts of the necessary work to be done over the coming year.

So, the annual business plan depends on the strategy for its priorities, and the strategy depends on the annual plan to execute its ideas about the organization’s vision, mission, purpose, and goals. Logistics, projects, allocation of resources, and timing are covered in the annual plan.

Preparing to create an annual plan.

Before you can look ahead, you need to first look back, take what you’ve learned, and recommit yourself to your company’s values and priorities. Thus, reviewing your old plan and assessing its results against expectations is an important first step.

You should also review your company’s:

  • Mission statement: This is a guiding declaration that describes what your company does and differentiates you from your competition.
  • Vision statement : This is an aspirational statement about what your company wants to become—an important factor in setting the annual plan’s priorities.
  • Core values: These are the principles, beliefs, and philosophies that shape your company’s culture and support your vision for the future.
  • Financial information, including budgeting: This is important because annual planning is connected to the budgetary approval process for the next fiscal year, including anticipated revenue, expenses, and growth predictions.
  • Key problems and issues: By understanding what went wrong the previous year and the issues it faced, a company can offer remedies in its annual plan to improve future outcomes.

What is included in an annual plan?

There are many annual business plan templates you can use to make your plan. Generally, they contain these elements:

Stated goals (SMART)

Your yearly plan should include both SMART and stretch goals.

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals are an enduring staple of the business world, helping to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, ensure your time and resources are used productively, and increase your chances of success. Stretch goals, as the name suggests, require above-and-beyond effort and innovation to pull off, with the promise of a greater payoff. Include a mixture of both in your annual plan.

Budget and financials

An annual plan also includes projections for the coming 12 months, forecasting income and outlays. Your projections will help you plan for cash flow dips, pinpoint financing needs, and decide the best timing for projects.

Part of this involves developing monthly financial projections by recording expected income based on sales forecasts and anticipated expenses for labor, supplies, overhead, and so on. It’s wise to prepare a projected income (profit and loss) statement and a balance sheet projection.

You can also use the projections to determine financing needs, if any. Well-prepared projections will make it easier to qualify for a loan.

Timelines and checkpoints

To reach where you want your business to be in a year, take your larger goals and split them up into smaller goals set on specific timelines. As you set your deadlines, include metrics that will indicate how successful you’ve been in achieving your goals.

Clearly outlined expectations and responsibilities

An annual business plan works best if it’s aspirational but achievable, with practical goals that are spelled out in clear language, indicating which individuals, teams, or departments are responsible for which parts of the plan. Given that almost 50% of employees in the United States don’t know what is expected of them at work, a little bit of clarity can go a long way.

Vision for what the business looks like at the end of the year

As much as annual business plans are about the practical implementation of a company’s strategy, it’s also important to keep the organization’s aspirational future vision in mind. Having a clear vision of what successful completion of your annual planning goals looks like increases your chances of success.

Contingency plans

What happens if your company’s cash flow gets into trouble? It’s a good idea to set up emergency financial reservoirs before they’re necessary. Maintaining a cash reserve or keeping room in a line of credit are both good contingency measures. Remember to compare your actual financial results to your projections throughout the year, so you can spot financial problems before they spiral out of control.

Creating an annual plan is easier when you use the right tools. These can include an annual business plan template that organizes planning efforts and a wide variety of software solutions for writing business and strategy plans.

As you execute your annual plan, it’s also a good idea to rely on a work management platform with strategic planning tools that allow you to collaborate productively, create content, and manage complex processes. Using features like Workfront's Scenario Planner , you can simplify the annual planning process, adapt to market shifts with continuous planning, compare scenarios for risk and effectiveness, and stay ahead of the competition.

Armed with the right tools, plans, and processes, you can create a well-conceived and executed annual business plan that ensures the year ahead lives up to your expectations.

Man with laptop developing an annual plan during an annual planning meeting card image

Strategy Capstone

The Definitive Guide to Annual Planning for Business Owners

In the relentless bustle of the business world, an annual plan stands as your company’s compass, mapping out the pivotal landmarks and routes for the fiscal year ahead. This extensive guide is tailored to the diligent business owners who understand the essence of strategic planning in steering their ventures towards growth and success.

Navigating through the intricate process of annual planning can seem daunting at first, especially when the workload and complexities of day-to-day operations threaten to overshadow the long-term strategic vision. Yet, it is through the rigors of planning that the most successful businesses find their roadmap to prosperity.

From setting clear, measurable targets to aligning your financial forecast with your operational capacity, we cover the vital steps and principles that will fortify your business for the year ahead. In the pages you’re about to read, you will unfold:

  • Why annual planning is imperative for sustainable business growth
  • A step-by-step breakdown of the annual planning process
  • How to avoid common strategic planning pitfalls
  • Ready-to-use templates to kickstart your annual planning with confidence

Business owners set the foundational tone for their company’s future trajectory, and annual planning is the bedrock upon which that direction is built. Join us as we craft an annual plan that promises not merely to guide but to transform and invigorate your enterprise.

What Is Annual Planning?

Annual planning isn’t just a once-a-year exercise to set company goals and initiatives; it is a comprehensive framework that crystalizes strategic objectives into actionable items for every department and level of your business.

It’s a cyclical process that should inform and adapt to your day-to-day operations while charting your business’s growth trajectory over a 12-month period.

The planning is an exercise in mindfulness, requiring a thorough understanding of your business’s current state and a visionary approach to where you’d want it to be. This proactive mindset entails foresight, adaptability, and a touch of audacity to stretch your business beyond its current constraints.

ROI , productivity, and market expansion all sound great on paper, but without a solid plan to turn these aspirations into reality, they remain mere wishful thinking. Annual planning gives you that plan — one that is wound through with the threads of accountability and strategic direction.

A well-crafted annual plan:

  • Align your team toward common goals
  • Enhances resource allocation
  • Identifies and mitigates risks
  • Provides a benchmark for evaluation and benchmarking

Why is Annual Planning Important?

Annual planning is not just a business trope; it’s a survival skill in the fast-paced, competitive landscape. Here are compelling reasons why it should be a top priority for business owners:

  • Goal Clarity : It doesn’t get more clear-cut than annual planning for setting down company-wide goals and the means to achieve them. The clarity in business objectives streamlines operations, fosters innovation, and unifies employees under a common purpose.
  • Strategic Focus : In the whirlwind of quarterly results and daily challenges, strategic focus can wane. Annual planning provides precision in strategic initiatives, ensuring that you’re not just working but working towards your company’s long-term success.
  • Resource Alignment : Every business has a finite amount of resources, from manpower to capital and time. Aligning these resources with a strategic annual plan ensures maximum impact and return on investment.
  • Risk Mitigation : The business environment is fraught with uncertainties. Strategic planning anticipates risks and prepares contingencies to minimize disruptions.
  • Accountability and Benchmarking : A documented plan holds you and your team accountable. It sets the rubric against which performance can be measured and improvements can be tracked.

Done thoughtfully, annual planning can elevate your business from reactive to proactive, fortifying its resilience and readiness for the future.

The Benefits of The Annual Planning Process

What does annual planning bring to the table? Here’s a taste of the benefits:

  • Enhanced Decision-Making : A strategic plan guides your decisions. When in doubt, you can refer back to your objectives, aligning your choices with your long-term strategy.
  • Financial Clarity : A detailed annual plan supports budgeting and financial forecasting, ensuring that your fiscal strategy aligns with your business goals.
  • Enhanced Team Performance : Employees value a clear direction and purpose. An annual plan provides this, leading to increased motivation, engagement, and productivity.
  • Improved Market Adaptability : With a yearly plan incorporating market analysis, your business will be better equipped to pivot in response to shifts in customer behavior and market dynamics.

Annual planning offers a host of benefits that trickle down from the strategic level to everyday business interactions. It brings cohesion, purpose, adaptability, and foresight to your business.

5 Steps To Build An Annual Plan

Step 1: reflect on the past year.

Begin your planning process by looking back at the past year. What were your achievements and disappointments? What lessons can you carry forward? A SWOT analysis — identifying your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — can be instrumental in this step.

Step 2: Define Your Objectives

What are your strategic objectives for the coming year? These should be high-level goals that address the SWOT analysis results and enhance business growth.

Step 3: Break Down Objectives into Key Results

Chunk your objectives into measurable key results. Each key result should have specific metrics, a timeline, and an owner responsible for its completion.

Step 4: Develop Strategies and Initiatives

For each key result, define the strategies and initiatives that will help you achieve them. Consider market dynamics, competitor action, and internal capacity in crafting these.

Step 5: Communicate, Implement, and Monitor

Communicate your annual plan across the organization. Implement the strategies through a series of tactical initiatives and monitor progress against your key results religiously, making adjustments as necessary.

4 Templates for Annual Plans

The traditional strategic plan:.

This template is perfect for those business owners who prefer the established structure of a strategic plan, featuring sections on vision and mission, environmental scanning, strategy formulation, strategy implementation, and evaluation and control.

The Results-Oriented Plan:

Focused more on outcomes than processes, this plan template centers on key results and the methods to achieve them. It’s ideal for businesses that set and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) rigorously.

The Lean Plan:

A stripped-down approach to traditional planning, the lean template is for businesses with a more fluid, rapidly-changing environment. It emphasizes a concise, living document updated frequently.

The One-Page Business Plan:

This ultra-simplified template distills the essence of your annual plan onto a single page. It encapsulates your business’s vision, mission, objectives, and strategies, serving as a quick reference for you and your team.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Conducting Annual Strategic Planning

Failing to include key stakeholders:.

A strategic plan crafted in an echo chamber is prone to blind spots. Engage with your workforce, community, and industry experts to gain diverse perspectives.

Overcomplicating the Plan:

Annual plans are tools for communication and alignment. A plan that’s too dense and complex can discourage engagement and comprehension.

Inadequate Focus on Implementation:

Fancy strategies on paper amount to nothing if they’re not implemented. Your annual planning should give equal weight to implementation and monitoring.

Ignoring the Competition:

Market positioning is a dynamic equilibrium. Understand and assess your competition to refine your strategies effectively.

Neglecting to Build in Flexibility:

Your business environment can change rapidly. A rigid annual plan can quickly become obsolete. Ensure your plan is adaptable, with built-in space for tactical shifts.

Setting Unrealistic Goals:

Your annual plan is only as good as the realism of its goals and timelines. Unrealistic objectives can demoralize your team and disillusion your stakeholders.

Underestimating Communication:

A common strategic vision is a powerful glue for your teams. Regular, transparent communication about the plan’s progress is essential to maintain this cohesion.

Crafting an annual plan is no small feat, and the complexities and variables involved can sometimes seem overwhelming. However, with the right framework and resources, you can create a plan that not only steers your company’s course but ignites its potential.

Engage with this guide as your virtual strategic advisor and start drafting the roadmap to your business’s great tomorrow. The time and effort invested in annual planning will be the seeds from which your business’s future grows.

To learn more about developing an annual plan and other strategic strategies and formulations, contact Strategy Capstone!

  • Professional Services
  • Creative & Design
  • See all teams
  • Project Management
  • Workflow Management
  • Task Management
  • Resource Management
  • See all use cases

Apps & Integrations

  • Microsoft Teams
  • See all integrations

Explore Wrike

  • Book a Demo
  • Take a Product Tour
  • Start With Templates
  • Customer Stories
  • ROI Calculator
  • Find a Reseller
  • Mobile & Desktop Apps
  • Cross-Tagging
  • Kanban Boards
  • Project Resource Planning
  • Gantt Charts
  • Custom Item Types
  • Dynamic Request Forms
  • Integrations
  • See all features

Learn and connect

  • Resource Hub
  • Educational Guides

Become Wrike Pro

  • Submit A Ticket
  • Help Center
  • Premium Support
  • Community Topics
  • Training Courses
  • Facilitated Services
  • Collaboration

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Strategic Annual Plan

November 19, 2021 - 10 min read

Maria Waida

The first step to achieving goals is to come up with an annual plan. A strategic annual plan makes it easier for managers, team leaders, and company owners to execute their vision for growth. Not only does creating an annual plan give you time to reflect on past accomplishments, but it’s also a great way to make ideas actionable. Keep reading to learn more about what annual planning is and how you can create one that has a significant impact on your organization. 

What is an annual plan?

An annual business plan is a set of goals and milestones that guide a company's operations for the year ahead. It helps guide employees and investors in the right direction. For many people, this year's new year begins with a review of their previous year. They then set goals and make plans for the coming year.

Annual planning is a combination of two other important elements: a business plan and an annual plan. 

A business plan is a document that a company or organization uses to set goals and improve performance. It's similar to a belt-tightening exercise.

An annual plan is a strategy that a company uses to set goals and expectations for the coming year . It helps employees visualize where they are headed and how they can get there. The annual plan also sets out a company's long-term goals and helps guide how it will reach these targets.

An annual business plan helps workers set goals and holds them accountable for achieving those goals for the upcoming 12 months.

Then, there’s strategic planning. A strategic planning process helps an organization identify its mission, vision, and strategic goals.

The strategic plan combined with the annual business plan are two key components of a successful strategy. The former provides a framework for the company's goals and intentions, while the latter provides the necessary tools and processes to execute those goals.

Overview of a strategic annual plan

Here is what is typically included in a strategic annual plan: 

  • Analysis of past performance. Reviewing your goals can help you identify areas where you can improve and become more productive.
  • Budget estimations. Financial projections are often included in budget planning. They help you plan for the coming year and identify the right course of action for your projects.
  • A clear vision statement. Expectations must be clearly stated, as well as responsibilities and clear OKRs. Having these elements in place can help keep teams on track and motivated.
  • SMART goals . Set specific, measurable goals and deadlines for your company. This will help you measure how far you've come in terms of meeting the key results.
  • Buffer room. A well-written annual plan should include space for emergencies as well. Having a contingency plan can help avoid unexpected expenses.

In a nutshell: the annual plan is a strategy used to plan and execute the organization's goals and objectives. It is usually composed of three phases which are strategy, projects, and timing.

The importance of an annual plan

Annual planning helps define what's important to achieving goals and driving performance. An annual plan also helps keep the workforce united and can be used to motivate and retain employees.

A well-written annual plan can help you set the direction for your company while providing the team with a sense of direction.

Examples of annual strategic planning

Here are some ideas to get you started with your own strategic annual plan: 

1. Coca Cola HBC 2020 Integrated Annual Plan  

Coca-Cola's 246-page report details all aspects of their business. They start by celebrating their wins with statistics. They also include photos of actual customers and partners. Their CEO writes a letter to their stakeholders sharing their biggest accomplishments over the past year. 

Then they go through their vision. Throughout the strategy, you can see that they are using the pillar method for goal planning. Key areas of focus include leveraging existing business, continuing to win the beverage marketplace, making competitive investments, focusing on employee growth, and expanding their licensing.

The overall report is designed well and is reminiscent of a well-crafted white paper. Because the CEO's letter was addressed specifically to stakeholders, we know that this is a tool for increasing investment as well as project planning. Because of this, a lot of the content within it answers the question, “why should I invest in you?”

Throughout the rest of the annual plan, each pillar gets its own section. At the top of each section, there is a list of accomplishments from the past year and priorities for the coming year. They also summarize risks, stakeholders, and KPIs. This makes the packet easy to skim but also easy to remember.

2. pep+ (PepsiCo Positive)

PepsiCo recently announced that their new 2022 initiative will revolve around “the planet and people.” While this is a long-term process for the brand, the launch will mark the core of their strategic annual plan for the foreseeable future. Their keywords include positivity (hence the “+”), sustainability, and “a fundamental transformation of what we do and how we do it.” 

On their dedicated landing page, readers can dig deeper into their annual plan. Also well designed, this presentation shows what the future looks like for PepsiCo through refreshed branding and imagery. Symbols such as smiling farmers and healthy, green fields drive the message home. 

To achieve these new goals, the company will focus on supply chains, inspiring consumers, and driving sustainable change among all its product lines. 

They link several documents throughout the report, including a comprehensive list of goals which is a great example for your own annual plan template inspiration. This three-page chart names pillars on the left-hand side and targets or actions with due dates on the right. 

If their goals have numerical metrics, they include data from past years, along with key benchmarks they hope to reach by the end of the year or in the future. Otherwise, their goals are measured in actions. 

For example, as part of their sustainability pillar, they plan to “develop and deploy disruptive sustainable packaging materials and new models for convenient foods and beverages.” This task is specific and clear, despite the fact that it’s not as quantifiable as some of their other goals. 

3. Nestlé Global’s Annual Report 

Their annual plan is not public but they have shared an annual report on past wins from 2020. In addition to a financial review, Nestlé also shares a new strategy. Starting with important facts and figures the company highlights statistics from organic sales growth and more. They also visualize data about which types of products are selling most and where in the world the company has grown over the past year.

As Coca-Cola did, Nestlé also includes a letter to shareholders. They discuss ways in which they plan to grow in the coming year. This includes what product areas they will invest more in and where they will pause or halt efforts. They also emphasize a new product area which will be the focus moving forward in the short term. In this section, Nestlé touches on long-term strategies and how these short-term goals will affect them. 

In general, their annual report focuses on the word innovation. It mostly has to do with developing new products and revamping old ones. Like PepsiCo, they are using sustainability as a pillar as well as e-commerce.

The report goes on to elaborate on each strategy individually. Nestlé lists action steps and provides clear evidence as to why each is important. They also highlight statistics for growth in key areas and name even bigger numbers for where they hope to be in a year. 

Throughout the report, they include images from ad campaigns that demonstrate the change they wish to continue implementing as part of their marketing plan . Again, branding imagery makes a big difference when creating your own strategic annual plan. It sets the tone for what's written on the page and can help visual learners better understand what you're going for at a glance. 

Although Nestle's strategic annual plan is designed more like a white paper than a chart, this layout is the most magazine-like by far. It serves as a great example of how you can organize ideas on the page in a way that is interesting and attention-grabbing.

One of the most notable aspects of their annual plan is the Materiality Matrix. They use this chart to visualize key areas of interest and prioritize them according to stakeholder values. Within each box, they’ve listed bullet points of business areas this value will impact. It’s a great method for summarizing goals that cover a wide variety of departments and business engagements. 

Understanding strategic planning best practices

Everyone has their own way of thinking about annual plans. Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, the following strategic planning best practices will help you get there: 

1. Use SMART goals

A variety of SMART goals are commonly used to help guide and motivate people. They help set realistic benchmarks and are designed to help teams achieve success. It will also help you plan for the ups and downs of your business. To reach your goals, divide them up into smaller goals and set specific deadlines. These goals will help you measure how successful you are at reaching them.

2. Include contingencies

For example, having an emergency financial reservoir is a good idea to prevent a potential financial disaster. It can help your company navigate slower seasons while still sticking to your annual plan. 

3. Build in flexibility 

Even minor shifts in external factors can significantly impact on how effective you are at creating and implementing your strategic plan. Never forget that, while we are creating our annual plans in a vacuum, the world will undoubtedly go through more changes this coming year. Even though we can’t predict the future, we can make our plans foolproof by being flexible now. 

What is an annual plan template?

An annual plan template is a document or tool that can be utilized repeatedly to outline the various stages involved in creating an annual plan.

Its purpose is to provide a clear understanding of the annual planning process by specifying the actions to be taken and the timeline to follow in order to develop an effective business plan. By utilizing the annual planning template, individuals or organizations can ensure that they have a systematic approach to reaching specific goals, and can enhance the quality of their business plans.

Using Wrike to assist with an annual plan template

Wrike’s project management software can help you keep track of all your company-related information in one place. It can also streamline your work and help you stay on track. It can also help you keep track of your annual plans and develop a strong strategy.

Start by using last year as a reference. By understanding the issues that affected the previous year, a company can improve its performance in the following year.

Draw reports of time spent per project and see where your team went over or underestimated. Then look at which tasks tend to drain resources the most. Determine whether or not the ROI is worth it moving forward. 

Next, set realistic goals. Reflect on last year's statistics from Wrike Reports and put together a plan with a realistic metric for improvement. 

After, break down big plans into individual steps. Start by focusing on the business goals of the company then outline your key objectives that align with those. Make sure that everyone knows who is responsible for executing and approving each task. 

Draft a Gantt chart that includes each step broken down into relevant tasks. Remember to add deadlines to every action to keep teammates accountable and keep to realistic deadlines.

Then, delegate tasks according to strengths and weaknesses. Use project reporting and individual job performance to assess team members. You may find that those with specialized talent are being tasked with unskilled work when they could help solve major problems elsewhere. 

Don’t forget to involve the whole team. Start early, plan ahead, and keep everyone involved in the process. Doing so will make it easier to overcome obstacles once the projects are underway. 

Additionally, ask them for direct feedback on your ideas for the next year. You will learn from the front line what obstacles they may be facing that will affect the timeline. 

Another bonus of getting your team involved is that it creates more transparency in the workplace. Using Wrike as a part of the process is not only helpful, but the team also keeps learning how to use the system more efficiently as they go. 

Having a work management platform that enables you to plan and execute annual plans is a good idea. Plus, it's also a good idea to use tools that allow you to collaborate and manage complex processes. Create an effective annual plan today with Wrike’s free trial . 

Mobile image promo promo

Maria Waida

Maria is a freelance content writer who specializes in blogging and other marketing materials for enterprise software businesses.

Related articles

KPIs vs. OKRs: Differences and Examples

KPIs vs. OKRs: Differences and Examples

Think of your team’s resolutions for this year. Did you achieve desired results from your efforts? Which specific initiatives were effective? Which were not? Reviewing your overall performance is important when gauging what you’ve accomplished throughout the year.

Authentic Leadership: Theory, Benefits, and Examples

Authentic Leadership: Theory, Benefits, and Examples

Explore the benefits of authentic leadership with our guide to authentic leadership theory, and how it can improve your team’s effectiveness.

What Is Transformational Leadership?

What Is Transformational Leadership?

What is transformational leadership? It’s a leadership style that’s focused on change within a team, organization, or project. Here’s what you need to know.

Get weekly updates in your inbox!

Get weekly updates in your inbox!

You are now subscribed to wrike news and updates.

Let us know what marketing emails you are interested in by updating your email preferences here .

Sorry, this content is unavailable due to your privacy settings. To view this content, click the “Cookie Preferences” button and accept Advertising Cookies there.

.css-s5s6ko{margin-right:42px;color:#F5F4F3;}@media (max-width: 1120px){.css-s5s6ko{margin-right:12px;}} AI that works. Coming June 5, Asana redefines work management—again. .css-1ixh9fn{display:inline-block;}@media (max-width: 480px){.css-1ixh9fn{display:block;margin-top:12px;}} .css-1uaoevr-heading-6{font-size:14px;line-height:24px;font-weight:500;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;color:#F5F4F3;}.css-1uaoevr-heading-6:hover{color:#F5F4F3;} .css-ora5nu-heading-6{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:start;-ms-flex-pack:start;-webkit-justify-content:flex-start;justify-content:flex-start;color:#0D0E10;-webkit-transition:all 0.3s;transition:all 0.3s;position:relative;font-size:16px;line-height:28px;padding:0;font-size:14px;line-height:24px;font-weight:500;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;color:#F5F4F3;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover{border-bottom:0;color:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover path{fill:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover div{border-color:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover div:before{border-left-color:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active{border-bottom:0;background-color:#EBE8E8;color:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active path{fill:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active div{border-color:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active div:before{border-left-color:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover{color:#F5F4F3;} Get early access .css-1k6cidy{width:11px;height:11px;margin-left:8px;}.css-1k6cidy path{fill:currentColor;}

  • Product overview
  • All features
  • App integrations

CAPABILITIES

  • project icon Project management
  • Project views
  • Custom fields
  • Status updates
  • goal icon Goals and reporting
  • Reporting dashboards
  • workflow icon Workflows and automation
  • portfolio icon Resource management
  • Time tracking
  • my-task icon Admin and security
  • Admin console
  • asana-intelligence icon Asana Intelligence
  • list icon Personal
  • premium icon Starter
  • briefcase icon Advanced
  • Goal management
  • Organizational planning
  • Campaign management
  • Creative production
  • Marketing strategic planning
  • Request tracking
  • Resource planning
  • Project intake
  • View all uses arrow-right icon
  • Project plans
  • Team goals & objectives
  • Team continuity
  • Meeting agenda
  • View all templates arrow-right icon
  • Work management resources Discover best practices, watch webinars, get insights
  • What's new Learn about the latest and greatest from Asana
  • Customer stories See how the world's best organizations drive work innovation with Asana
  • Help Center Get lots of tips, tricks, and advice to get the most from Asana
  • Asana Academy Sign up for interactive courses and webinars to learn Asana
  • Developers Learn more about building apps on the Asana platform
  • Community programs Connect with and learn from Asana customers around the world
  • Events Find out about upcoming events near you
  • Partners Learn more about our partner programs
  • Support Need help? Contact the Asana support team
  • Asana for nonprofits Get more information on our nonprofit discount program, and apply.

Featured Reads

annual business plan outline

  • 6 steps for operations leaders to build ...

6 steps for operations leaders to build a better annual plan

Julia Martins contributor headshot

An effective annual plan is critical to keep your teams, departments, and company together, working toward the same goals. 

As an operations leader, you oversee how your organization runs its business. By reviewing how your company performed in the past year, you and your operations teams can identify which strategies worked—and which fell short—to build an effective annual plan designed to maximize the impact of every department.

Here’s what you need to know about building a successful annual plan.

Connect everyone's work to company-wide goals

87% of workers with individual goals tied to company-wide goals say their business is well-prepared to meet customer expectations. Discover how Asana can transform the way your organization aligns work to goals.

CTA banner image for a webinar by Asana, a collaborative work management platform

Annual plans drive clarity and accountability 

With an annual plan, departments can start the year off with a strong understanding of the overall vision and how their work contributes to larger business goals. Without an overarching plan, it can be difficult to understand how a specific project or initiative moves the business forward. 

Clear goals establish benchmarks for project progress

Your annual plan shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it goal. Rather, periodically check project progress against your annual plan so you can see how your operations teams are doing. Doing this throughout the year will not only give you a sense of how your teams are tracking towards their overall goals—it can also help you understand if they’re ahead or behind schedule, and adjust accordingly. 

If you notice that a specific initiative is not on track to meet the strategic goals outlined in your company’s annual plan, you can use this data to pivot and double down on—or divest from—specific initiatives. 

Establish concrete goals for a specific time period

The more specific your goal, the more concrete your action plan. Providing detailed and specific goals gives your employees a clear understanding of what work to prioritize and what deliverables they’re responsible for. 

Make sure your goals are measurable, as well. Clear KPIs and OKRs demonstrate how tangible work connects back to larger business goals. 

6 steps for annual business planning

The annual planning process often takes place near the end of the calendar year or at the end of your company’s fiscal year. As you get closer to annual planning time, consider these six steps of the annual planning process. 

1. Reflect on previous strategies—and develop new ones

Before your business can start planning for next year, ask yourself, your stakeholders, and your operations teams: How did we perform against the strategies laid out in last year’s annual plan?

No matter the answer, use these recent data points to steer your decision-making when building your next annual plan. That could mean doubling down on big programs or initiatives born in the last year—or going a different direction entirely. 

A well-built annual plan factors in reflection on what did and didn’t work—and improves off of it.

2. Transform your business’s greatest needs into goals

After reflecting on last year’s performance, hone in on the most significant growth and improvement opportunities. Use this for guidance as you construct company- and department-wide goals.

It helps to have a consistent framework for goals across the business, to accelerate the goal-setting process and ensure greater understanding of goals within all corners of the organization.

The exact goal framework you use will depend on your company, but a few good ones to consider are: 

The Objectives and Key Results (OKR) method , which helps your business set goals using the framework “I will [objective] as measured by [key result].”

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) , which use leading and lagging indicators to track how you’re performing towards your goals. 

The SMART goals framework , which helps ensure the goals your organization sets are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

3. Create an action plan to maximize impact

The next step is to create an action plan for your business to achieve the goals outlined in step three. Your action plan should outline the list of steps your teams need to take to accomplish their goals. Think of an action plan like the map you’ll use to arrive at your final destination. 

From there, delegate the work laid out in the action plan to specific teams and departments. Connecting the work that your operations teams complete to larger company goals makes it easier for each team to understand the impact their work has on the business.

4. Ensure the annual plan is everyone’s plan

Not everyone can be involved in building the annual plan for your company—but every team member should feel like their work is seen and accounted for in the plan. 

As the annual plan comes together, meet with leaders and employees across the business to ensure varying perspectives and priorities are factored into the final product. This step is critical for getting buy-in and generating excitement across the business. 

You don’t want to be in a position where you’re just telling everyone what the annual plan is—you want to bring every department along for the journey and get them excited about what they’re working toward in the coming year. Consider conducting a presentation to not only share the company plan and why this plan matters, but also to outline timelines and how departments will use it to achieve the company’s goals. 

5. Execute your strategy, monitor metrics, and adjust as needed

At this point, your organization’s annual plan is completed, but nothing is ever fully set in stone. As the year progresses, make sure you’re continually monitoring success metrics and KPIs. If the results of your strategies are not behaving as you expected them to, it’s important to adjust so your business will still hit the goals outlined in your annual plan. 

6. Repeat again for next year 

At the end of the year, it’s time to start the process over again. Align with your strategic plan, look back at the past year’s results, and create another plan to achieve those business goals. 

What does a good annual plan include?

Effective annual plans should contain components that are essential for completing the work outlined in the plan itself, and context for why this plan will be effective. Here are a few examples of components you would find in an annual plan:

Reports of the previous year’s performance: Your company’s annual plan for the upcoming year should be based on the data from the previous year’s performance. This provides context for your teams as to what they’re capable of doing within one calendar year.

Budget estimates: A common KPI investors track is return on investment (ROI). Knowing how much money different teams are spending makes it easier for your organization to calculate ROI and adjust strategies. Providing budget estimations also gives departments the context they need for the amount of resources they have at their disposal for the year.

Clear and specific goals: Annual plans should use the SMART goal framework so that your company can easily measure progress and report back on it later. 

Important milestones: Your business can accomplish a lot of work within one year—but to do that, each department needs to know how they're doing. Milestones operate like checkpoints, giving teams and departments a sense of direction and an idea of how they're pacing against annual goals.

Project buffers and contingency plans: Unexpected things happen all the time, and it’s better to be prepared than caught off guard. Develop a contingency plan for how your organization will get back on track in the event of an unexpected roadblock. Also set aside some resource buffers, such as a small portion of your company’s budget, to accommodate for unexpected expenses.

Gear up for next year

After a year of hard work, it’s time to reflect back and plan for more great things in the future. While annual planning takes time, collaboration, and thoughtful strategy, the efforts show in the form of your business success. 

Still have questions? We have answers. 

What is annual planning.

Annual planning is the act of developing a strategy for the upcoming year based on the learnings from the current year’s performance. This provides an opportunity for your operations teams to iterate on strategy from the past year and incorporate those learnings into your upcoming plans. 

In essence, your annual plan should contain: 

The goals your business needs to achieve

A strategy for how your organization will hit those goals

Clear tactics for what each department will work on

Any important milestones that benchmark progress

What’s the difference between annual planning and strategic planning? 

Strategic planning and annual planning are both important business planning methods that help set your team's strategy for the future. However, the scale of these planning strategies are different.

Strategic planning is the long-term strategy for your business. This encompasses a basic roadmap of how business should develop within three to five years. You will use your strategic planning process to inform your annual plan. 

Annual planning represents all of the goals and strategies that you want your business to achieve, similar to a strategic goal. The main difference here is that an annual plan only encompasses one calendar year, instead of a few years. If you think of it like a pie, annual planning is just one slice of the larger strategic plan pie.

When should your operations teams start annual planning?

Begin your annual planning process during Q4, so you can begin day one of Q1 with your plan in hand. If that’s not an option, do your annual planning as close to the start of the new year as possible. 

There are two benefits to planning earlier. First off, you’ll beat the end-of-year crunch, and avoid the stress that traditionally comes with the end of the year. Additionally, if you run an efficient annual planning process with your leadership team, your operations teams will still be free to execute on high-impact projects throughout Q4.

Related resources

annual business plan outline

7 steps to complete a social media audit (with template)

annual business plan outline

How to accomplish big things with long-term goals

annual business plan outline

What are objectives and key results (OKRs)?

annual business plan outline

Fix these common onboarding challenges to boost productivity

SharpSheets

Manufacturing Business Plan PDF Example

Avatar photo

  • May 7, 2024
  • Business Plan

the business plan template for a manufacturing business

Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful manufacturing business. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your manufacturing business’s identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.

This article not only breaks down the critical components of a manufacturing business plan, but also provides an example of a business plan to help you craft your own.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or new to the manufacturing industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your manufacturing business concept into reality. Let’s dive in!

Our manufacturing business plan covers all essential aspects necessary for a comprehensive strategy. It details operations, marketing strategy , market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts.

  • Executive Summary : Provides an overview of the manufacturing company’s business concept, market analysis , management, and financial strategy.
  • Facilities & Equipment: Describes the facility’s capabilities, machinery, and technological advancements.
  • Operations & Supply: Outlines the production processes, supply chain logistics, and inventory management.
  • Key Stats: Offers data on industry size , growth trends, and market positioning.
  • Key Trends: Highlights significant trends impacting the industry, such as automation and localization.
  • Key Competitors : Analyzes primary competitors and differentiates the company from these rivals.
  • SWOT: Analyzes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Marketing Plan : Outlines tactics for attracting new contracts and maintaining client relationships.
  • Timeline : Sets out key milestones from inception through the first year of operations.
  • Management: Information on the management team and their roles within the company.
  • Financial Plan: Projects the company’s financial performance over the next five years, detailing revenue, profits, and anticipated expenses.

the business plan template for a manufacturing business

Manufacturing Business Plan

annual business plan outline

Fully editable 30+ slides Powerpoint presentation business plan template.

Download an expert-built 30+ slides Powerpoint business plan template

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary introduces your manufacturing business plan, offering a concise overview of your manufacturing facility and its products. It should detail your market positioning, the range of products manufactured, the production process, its location, size, and an outline of day-to-day operations.

This section should also explore how your manufacturing business will integrate into the local and broader markets, including the number of direct competitors within the area, identifying who they are, along with your business’s unique selling points that differentiate it from these competitors.

Furthermore, you should include information about the management and co-founding team, detailing their roles and contributions to the business’s success. Additionally, a summary of your financial projections, including revenue and profits over the next five years, should be presented here to provide a clear picture of your business’s financial plan.

Make sure to cover here _ Business Overview _ Market Overview _ Management Team _ Financial Plan

Manufacturing Business Plan exec summary1

Dive deeper into Executive Summary

Business Overview

Facilities & equipment.

Describe your manufacturing facility. Highlight its design, capacity, and technology. Mention the location, emphasizing accessibility to transport routes. Discuss advantages for efficiency and cost management. Detail essential equipment and its capabilities.

Operations & Supply Chain

Detail product range. Outline your operations strategy for efficiency and scalability. Discuss supply chain management. Highlight sourcing of materials, inventory control, and logistics. Emphasize strong partnerships with suppliers and distributors.

Make sure to cover here _ Facilities & Equipment _ Operations & Supplies

annual business plan outline

Market Overview

Industry size & growth.

Start by examining the size of the manufacturing industry relevant to your products and its growth potential. This analysis is crucial for understanding the market’s scope and identifying expansion opportunities.

Key Market Trends

Proceed to discuss recent market trends , such as the increasing demand for sustainable manufacturing processes, automation, and advanced materials. For example, highlight the demand for products that utilize eco-friendly materials or energy-efficient production techniques, alongside the rising popularity of smart manufacturing.

Key Competitors

Then, consider the competitive landscape, which includes a range of manufacturers from large-scale enterprises to niche firms. For example, emphasize what makes your business distinctive, whether it’s through advanced technology, superior product quality, or specialization in certain manufacturing niches. This section will help articulate the demand for your products, the competitive environment, and how your business is positioned to thrive within this dynamic market.

Make sure to cover here _ Industry size & growth _ Key competitors _ Key market trends

annual business plan outline

Dive deeper into Key competitors

First, conduct a SWOT analysis for your manufacturing business. Highlight Strengths such as advanced production technology and a skilled workforce. Address Weaknesses, including potential supply chain vulnerabilities or high production costs. Identify Opportunities like emerging markets for your products or potential for innovation in production processes. Consider Threats such as global competition or economic downturns that may impact demand for your products.

Marketing Plan

Next, develop a marketing strategy that outlines how to attract and retain customers through targeted advertising, trade shows, digital marketing, and strategic partnerships. Emphasize the importance of showcasing product quality and technological advantages to differentiate your business in the market.

Finally, create a detailed timeline that outlines critical milestones for your manufacturing business’s launch, marketing initiatives, customer acquisition, and expansion goals. Ensure the business progresses with clear direction and purpose, setting specific dates for achieving key operational and sales targets.

Make sure to cover here _ SWOT _ Marketing Plan _ Timeline

Manufacturing Business Plan strategy

Dive deeper into SWOT

Dive deeper into Marketing Plan

The Management section focuses on the manufacturing business’s management and their direct roles in daily operations and strategic direction. This part is crucial for understanding who is responsible for making key decisions and driving the manufacturing business toward its financial and operational goals.

For your manufacturing business plan, list the core team members, their specific responsibilities, and how their expertise supports the business.

Manufacturing Business Plan management

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is a comprehensive analysis of your financial projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. It lays out your manufacturing business’s approach to securing funding, managing cash flow, and achieving breakeven.

This section typically includes detailed forecasts for the first 5 years of operation, highlighting expected revenue, operating costs and capital expenditures.

For your manufacturing business plan, provide a snapshot of your financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statement), as well as your key assumptions (e.g. number of customers and prices, expenses, etc.).

Make sure to cover here _ Profit and Loss _ Cash Flow Statement _ Balance Sheet _ Use of Funds

Manufacturing Business Plan financial plan

Privacy Overview

Introducing our 2024-25 Annual Business Plan The Rail Safety and Standards Board Podcast

Welcome to another episode of the RSSB podcast! Today, join four members of our Executive Committee — Johnny Schute (Chief Operating Officer), Keith Hanlon-Smith (Chief People Officer), Hannah Kingsley (Chief Finance Officer), and Paul McLaughlin (Chief Commercial Officer) — as they outline industry's current challenges, discuss RSSB's priorities in addressing those, and introduce our new 'strategic multipliers'. You can find out more about our 2024–2025 Annual Business Plan at: https://www.rssb.co.uk/about-rssb/who-we-are/our-business-plan.

  • More Episodes
  • © 2024 Rail Safety and Standards Board

Free Google Slides Business Model Canvas Templates

By Courtney Patterson | May 8, 2024

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on LinkedIn

Link copied

These customizable Google Slides business model canvas templates are tailored for entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, and strategic planners. Download any template to help you develop and refine your business model, establishing a solid base for growth and innovation. This collection includes a  Lean business model canvas template , a  social enterprise business model canvas template , a  tech startup business model canvas template , and more.

Google Slides Simple Business Model Canvas Template

Simple Business Model Canvas Template

Download the Simple Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides 

When to Use This Template:  Use this streamlined business model canvas template during dynamic strategy meetings or brainstorming sessions. It's particularly useful for entrepreneurs, startups, and educators looking for a fast way to kick-start planning, facilitate workshops, or clarify ongoing business strategies. 

Notable Template Features:  This template efficiently outlines key aspects of a business model, such as value propositions, target customer segments, and critical operations. The user-friendly layout ensures swift updates and engaging team discussions, making it an essential resource for visualizing and refining strategic plans. 

Access this complimentary collection of  free business model canvas templates to effectively visualize your business's fundamental elements. 

Google Slides Lean Business Model Canvas Template

Lean Business Model Canvas Template

Download the Sample Lean Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides 

Download the Blank Lean Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides

When to Use This Template:  Ideal for high-velocity environments, this Lean business model canvas template with or without sample data allows forward-thinking innovators to expedite the testing and validation of their business concepts. It focuses on refining the pivotal aspects of a business strategy to adjust based on real-time market responses. 

Notable Template Features:  This template highlights critical Lean startup principles, including the alignment of solutions with customer problems, compelling value propositions, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Its interactive and flexible design makes it a vital resource for teams striving for continual progress. Download the sample version for a pre-filled template, or try the blank version to fill in the sections with your own data.

Google Slides Business Capability Model Template

Business Capability Model Template

Download the Business Capability Model Template for Google Slides  

When to Use This Template:  Use this template to streamline your strategic planning. It is designed to help organizations assess and outline their core business functions and capabilities so that they can synchronize business strategies with operational strengths and identify areas for investment. 

Notable Template Features:  Across multiple dynamic slides, this template facilitates a thorough analysis of business capabilities, from day-to-day operations to customer interaction tactics. Its organized layout allows for a methodical review of your company's strengths, weaknesses, and growth opportunities, improving communication and strategic alignment across teams and sectors. 

Google Slides Social Enterprise Business Model Canvas Template

Social Enterprise Canvas Template

Download the Social Enterprise Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides

When to Use This Template:  This Google Slides template is ideal for social enterprises and mission-driven organizations that need to strategize how to balance social impact with financial viability. Use this template in brainstorming sessions or strategic planning meetings to navigate the challenges of creating social value and financial stability. 

Notable Template Features:  This template emphasizes integrating social objectives with core business functions. It includes dedicated sections for outlining social missions, evaluating impact, and building community relationships. Its comprehensive design enables you to map out both the social and economic facets of your business. 

Google Slides Customer-Focused Business Model Canvas Template

Customer Focused Canvas Template Example

Download the Sample Customer-Focused Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides  

Download the Blank Customer-Focused Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides  

When to Use This Template:  Use this customer-focused template with or without sample data when you're fine-tuning or developing a business strategy with a strong emphasis on customer insights. The template is particularly effective at turning customer needs into unique market positions and customized experiences.

Notable Template Features:  Specially crafted to highlight the role of customer perspectives in strategic planning, this template features dedicated areas for detailing customer journeys, preferences, and the feedback process. It offers a comprehensive examination of how your business model caters to customer demands, prioritizing customer satisfaction and active engagement in every strategic move.

Google Slides E-Commerce Business Model Canvas Template

E-Commerce Business Model Canvas Template

Download the E-Commerce Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides  

When to Use This Template:  Try this e-commerce template when you need to elevate your presence in the digital retail space. Ideal for strategizing the launch of a new online store or refining the operations of an existing one, this template facilitates a detailed examination and improvement of an online shopping journey, from the first interaction to follow-up after sales. 

Notable Template Features:  Tailor-made for the nuances of e-commerce, this template provides a guide for strategizing around online consumer behaviors, digital marketing tactics, and logistical operations. It covers crucial strategic e-commerce activities, such as enhancing the customer experience, streamlining payment systems, and ensuring effective customer support. 

Google Slides Tech Startup Business Model Canvas Template

Tech Startup Model Canvas Template

Download the Tech Startup Business Model Canvas Template for Google Slides

When to Use This Template:  Use this tech startup template during critical phases of brainstorming and entering the market or as you adjust your tech enterprise to meet the changing needs of the industry. It's designed to help you better understand the relationship between your technological innovations and market requirements.

Notable Template Features:  Adapted for the unique challenges and opportunities of the tech sector, this template emphasizes research and development, intellectual property management, and strategies for gaining users. It offers a comprehensive layout for mapping out how your tech solutions align with market expectations, with a focus on ensuring scalability, security measures, and innovation.

Related Templates

Explore these complimentary Google Slides templates rooted in business model canvas methodologies. Tailored to boost your strategic business planning, these resources emphasize strategic planning, market analysis, value proposition clarification, and customer journey mapping. 

Free SWOT Analysis Templates for Google Slides

Basic SWOT Matrix Template

Make use of these  free SWOT analysis templates for Google Slides to better understand your organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, allowing for new strategic initiatives and insightful decision-making. 

Free Google Slides Project Management Templates

Simple Project Plan Example Template Google Slides

These  free Google Slides project management templates offer users an intuitive way to organize, track, and present project details, timelines, and milestones, enhancing project visibility and team collaboration. 

Free Brand Presentation Templates

annual business plan outline

See this collection of  free brand presentation templates for resources to help you seamlessly integrate and showcase your brand's identity in your business model canvas, enhancing how you communicate your value proposition and market positioning. 

Free Marketing Report Templates

Monthly Marketing Report Presentation Template

Take a look at these  free marketing report templates for help analyzing and presenting your marketing efforts and ensuring that they align with the strategies outlined in your business model canvas. 

Free Change Management Strategy Templates

Change Management Strategy Presentation Example Template

Check out these  free change management strategy templates to help you effectively plan and execute organizational changes, ensuring they align with your strategic objectives. 

Free Go-to-Market Strategy Templates

Go-To-Market Strategy Presentation Template

Explore these  free go-to-market strategy templates when you need a targeted strategic approach for launching a product or service. 

Free Project Timeline Templates

3 Month Project Timeline Template

Dive into these  free project timeline templates to help you map out the key milestones and timelines for your strategic initiatives, aligning them with the broader goals outlined in your business model canvas. 

Free Annual Plan Templates and Yearly Planning Templates

Annual Plan Slide Template

Discover these  free annual plan templates and yearly planning templates to assist you in setting annual goals and strategies that are in harmony with your long-term objectives. 

Free Google Timeline Templates

Simple Timeline Template

Check out these  free Google timeline templates to help you effectively visualize and plan the chronological development and execution of the strategies outlined in your business model canvas. 

Refine Your Business Models with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Discover a better way to connect your people, processes, and tools with one simple, easy-to-use platform that empowers your team to get more done, faster.

With Smartsheet, you can align your team on strategic initiatives, improve collaboration efforts, and automate repetitive processes, giving you the ability to make better business decisions and boost effectiveness as you scale. 

When you wear a lot of hats, you need a tool that empowers you to get more done in less time. Smartsheet helps you achieve that. Try free for 30 days, today .

Connect your people, processes, and tools with one simple, easy-to-use platform.

Talk Business & Politics

ATA hosts annual trucking conference this week in Rogers

by Jeff Della Rosa  ( [email protected] ) May 7, 2024 11:39 am 312 views  

annual business plan outline

Nearly 300 trucking industry leaders are expected to attend the annual Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) Conference & Vendor Showcase this week in Rogers.

The ATA will host the conference from Wednesday (May 8) to Friday (May 10). The conference events will largely take place at Rogers Convention Center and include speakers who will discuss economics, politics, autonomous vehicles and litigation.

Andrew Boyle, chairman of the American Trucking Associations and co-president of Boyle Transportation, will be the keynote speaker and provide the state of the industry address at 1:30 p.m. Thursday (May 9). Boyle will discuss the most pressing industry challenges, such as electric vehicle mandates and threats to the independent contractor model.

At noon Friday, Hunter Yurachek, vice chancellor and director of athletics for the University of Arkansas, will be the featured speaker during the awards luncheon when ATA recognizes the state’s top driver, maintenance professional and safety professional. Fleet safety awards will also be announced.

The noon Thursday luncheon will feature Jonathan Martin, Politico’s politics bureau chief. He will share his observations on trends shaping national politics, the presidential race and the role of the national media.

On Friday, Rich Pianka, general counsel and executive vice president of American Trucking Associations, will explain how litigation has emerged as an important advocacy tool. Policy debates and burdensome regulations are more commonly being challenged in court. Pianka will talk about the role litigation plays in advocating for a safe, efficient and successful trucking industry.

A panel discussion on autonomous technology will take place Thursday afternoon. Longtime executive Craig Harper, who recently retired from J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., will moderate the discussion that will include Rich Steiner of Gatik, Michael Wiesinger of Kodiak and Sam Loesche of Waabi.

annual business plan outline

Other speakers include Brent Williams, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the UA, and Jamie Bishop and Jill Lange, both of Cottingham & Butler. Williams will discuss how economic changes affect local, national and global supply chains. Bishop and Lange will discuss driver and non-driver pay and benefits and remaining competitive in a tough economy.

The three-day event kicks off Wednesday afternoon with two networking opportunities ­— a fundraiser golf tournament at Shadow Valley Country Club to support the Arkansas Trucking Association Political Action Committee and a welcome reception at Rogers Convention Center. The event’s 26 vendors will have exhibits throughout the week.

“The regulatory, political, legal and economic climates will always present challenges for the trucking industry to navigate,” said ATA President Shannon Newton. “Our carriers have experienced a tough few years while continuing to serve Arkansas communities and deliver America’s freight. The annual conference serves as a communal gathering for industry leaders to celebrate our achievements and imagine innovative solutions to shared concerns.”

IMAGES

  1. FREE 9+ Sample Business Plan Outline Templates in PDF

    annual business plan outline

  2. Free business plan templates and examples for your startup

    annual business plan outline

  3. Business Outline Template

    annual business plan outline

  4. Business Outline Template

    annual business plan outline

  5. Annual business plan template in Word and Pdf formats

    annual business plan outline

  6. 11 Sample Business Plan Outline Templates to Download

    annual business plan outline

VIDEO

  1. Business Plan Examples

  2. What YOUR Business Plan Needs!

  3. How to launch your idea and turn it into a thriving business in 90 days

  4. Accounting Business Plan Tips

  5. Setting Goals

  6. Writing a Business Plan

COMMENTS

  1. How to Create a Profitable Annual Business Plan [+Free Template]

    If you head a department that could benefit from an annual business plan, don't wait to be asked before you start writing. Get on your CEO's schedule to review your outline and discuss your intentions for putting this plan together. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. You can get the ball rolling with the basic template that follows.

  2. Annual Business Planning Template

    Annual Business Plan Template Executive Summary. The executive summary is a brief overview of the company's annual plans while taking into account the company's broader vision. It should include a description of the company, its products, and services, its marketing and sales strategy, its operations plan, and its financial plan. ...

  3. Annual Planning Templates: How to Make your 2021 Annual Plan

    An annual business plan is a work plan that outlines the goals, resources and operations a company will execute in a 1-year period. It usually includes an annual budget, project deadlines, roles and responsibilities. ... And when it comes to sharing a work plan, this template is a must-have in your annual planning toolkit.

  4. Free Annual Plan Templates & Yearly Planning Templates

    Download the Yearly Planning Template with Gantt Chart in Excel. Use this yearly planning template with a Gantt chart to list annual objectives. This template is similar to the simple annual plan, but adds a Gantt chart to provide a visual representation of each deliverable's timeline. Enter the start date and due date for each objective.

  5. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  6. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  7. How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates]

    The goal here is to showcase why your team is the best to run your business. Investors want to know you're unified, organized and reliable. This is also a potential opportunity to bring more humanity to your business plan and showcase the faces behind the ideas and product. 5. Marketing and sales.

  8. How to create a successful annual business plan

    Your strategic plan should detail your business plan and long-term goals while taking market conditions into consideration. Your annual plan should complement your overall strategic plan ...

  9. Write your business plan

    You might prefer a traditional business plan format if you're very detail-oriented, want a comprehensive plan, or plan to request financing from traditional sources. When you write your business plan, you don't have to stick to the exact business plan outline. Instead, use the sections that make the most sense for your business and your needs.

  10. Free Annual Planning Templates

    Annual Business Plan Templates: A comprehensive annual business plan template includes the executive summary, company overview, SWOT analysis, and other key elements of a business plan. These templates usually include features for calculating sales forecasts, financial statements, and other essential data.

  11. Annual Planning: Plan Like a Pro In 5 Steps (+ Template)

    Here's how to do annual planning the right way: 1. Analyze your performance and identify opportunities. Before you set goals, you should do an analysis of your company's current performance, market, and competitors to see where you stand. Here are some tools you can use in the process: SWOT analysis. PESTLE analysis.

  12. How To Create An Effective Annual Operating Plan (+Template)

    Step 1: Do the initial research and analysis. To kick off the planning process, assess the current state of your organization. Review the previous year's performance, considering various data sources, including financial statements and operational reports . By doing a thorough business review, you ensure that your annual operating plan for next ...

  13. Business Plan Templates: 26 FREE Samples

    Consultant Business Plan Template . An example of a document outlining your strategy for launching or expanding your consulting firm is a Consultant Business Plan Template. The essential elements include a summary of the company, team, sector, rivals, target audience, and an operations and marketing strategy.

  14. Free Annual Planning Template: Streamline Strategies [2024] • Asana

    An annual planning template is a reusable guide that lays out each step in the annual planning process. It helps clarify planning by outlining exactly what you should do—and when you should do it—to craft a successful business plan. For example, your template could include a timeline for strategy sessions, submitting budget and headcount ...

  15. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and ...

  16. A Guide to Annual Planning Best Practices

    Adobe Communications Team. 03-18-2022. A strong annual plan builds on the company's broader strategic vision and core values while still providing specific goals, metrics, and budgets to guide managers and employees. If it's doing its job, the annual business plan is also flexible enough to adapt to an unpredictable and often volatile market.

  17. A Definitive Guide to the Annual Plan

    The One-Page Business Plan: This ultra-simplified template distills the essence of your annual plan onto a single page. It encapsulates your business's vision, mission, objectives, and strategies, serving as a quick reference for you and your team. 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Conducting Annual Strategic Planning Failing to Include Key Stakeholders:

  18. Ultimate Guide to Creating a Strategic Annual Plan

    An annual plan template is a document or tool that can be utilized repeatedly to outline the various stages involved in creating an annual plan. Its purpose is to provide a clear understanding of the annual planning process by specifying the actions to be taken and the timeline to follow in order to develop an effective business plan.

  19. Free editable and printable business plan templates

    712 templates. Create a blank Business Plan. Dark Blue And Green Modern Business Plan Cover Page. Document by shadow.diamond. Green Professional Strategic Business Plan Executive Summary. Document by Antler. Startup Business Plan. Document by Maea Studio.

  20. Free Simple Business Plan Templates

    Download Simple Small-Business Plan Template. Word | PDF. This template walks you through each component of a small-business plan, including the company background, the introduction of the management team, market analysis, product or service offerings, a financial plan, and more. This template also comes with a built-in table of contents to ...

  21. Annual Planning: 6 Steps to Plan a Fiscal Year [2024] • Asana

    Annual plans drive clarity and accountability Annual planning gives your business a needed roadmap or template for the upcoming year. Seventy-five percent of successful companies have a formal and pre-established system to inform on and manage their strategy. It builds a connection between your employees' goals and work, making it easier for them to generate results-based outcomes and ...

  22. Manufacturing Business Plan PDF Example

    The Plan. Our manufacturing business plan covers all essential aspects necessary for a comprehensive strategy. It details operations, marketing strategy, market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts. Executive Summary: Provides an overview of the manufacturing company's business concept, market analysis ...

  23. Introducing our 2024-25 Annual Business Plan

    Welcome to another episode of the RSSB podcast! Today, join four members of our Executive Committee — Johnny Schute (Chief Operating Officer), Keith Hanlon-Smith (Chief People Officer), Hannah Kingsley (Chief Finance Officer), and Paul McLaughlin (Chief Commercial Officer) — as they outline industry's current challenges, discuss RSSB's priorities in addressing those, and introduce our new ...

  24. 7 Free Google Slides Business Model Canvas Templates

    Free Annual Plan Templates and Yearly Planning Templates; ... Ideal for high-velocity environments, this Lean business model canvas template with or without sample data allows forward-thinking innovators to expedite the testing and validation of their business concepts. It focuses on refining the pivotal aspects of a business strategy to adjust ...

  25. ATA hosts annual trucking conference this week in Rogers

    Nearly 300 trucking industry leaders are expected to attend the annual Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) Conference & Vendor Showcase this week in Rogers. The ATA will host the conference from Wednesday (May 8) to Friday (May 10). The conference events will largely take place at Rogers Convention Center and include speakers who will discuss ...